Safety professionals already are being asked to take on new roles, such as security and emergency response, following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to Alan C. McMillan, president and chief executive officer of the National Safety Council (NSC). Yet, safety pros need to do even more, McMillan says.
Speaking Monday at the opening session of the NSC Congress & Expo at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, McMillan told several thousand attendees that they cannot be concerned only with workplace injuries and deaths.
While 5,200 died at work in 2000, 97,300 Americans died in preventable accidents. Of that total, 43,000 died on U.S. roadways, and 41,800 employees died away from work.
"Your concern [for safety] no longer stops at the plant gate or at the end of the day," McMillan said. "This is America''s safety challenge: to prevent all injuries and deaths, no matter where, when or how they occur. Few companies today take such a universal approach to managing safety."
Before dismissing the concept as too big of a challenge, McMillan said, remember that workers'' thoughts may turn away from working safely if a family member has been injured or killed. The emotional trauma may cause the worker to miss work or, if at work, to become distracted and less productive.
Engraining safety into the minds of workers, McMillan said, will help them take that message home to their families. "It is time for each of us to use our knowledge and our skills to reach out to our employees, their families and the community at large. Who better to lead this effort that the tens of thousands of safety professionals, trained and equipped by the best organizations in our country."
by Todd Nighswonger